Dryland Wilds, New & Featured Artisan, Purveyor of Fine Soaps, Balms + Botanical Perfumes

Cebastien & Robin of Dryland Wilds invoke raw beauty of New Mexico's wilderness using ancient & classical perfumery techniques.

FF: Why did you begin your handmade journey?

DW: We’ve always been desert rats, plant nerds and makers. Wildcrafting, old-school perfume extraction and handmade skincare products used to be just obsessive hobbies for us. Weekend and holiday rituals that would stretch late into the night, sending us stumbling into the “real” work week blurry-eyed. Last year we decided to make our un-job our real job. It was a good choice. We now spend our time making wildcrafted desert perfumes and skincare products that transport you to the wild spaces they come from.

FF: What lead you to your current line of goods?

DW: It was the happy marriage of prior work in sustainable landscape design and our passion towards botanical perfumery and handmade beauty products. Making perfume requires a lot of plant material. Our clients had lots of plant material -- usually hated invasive or super common plants they wanted removed or pruned.

We would cart fragrant truckloads of unwanted sweet clover, sagebrush, tamarisk and russian olive clippings back to our workshop, where we would work on extracting perfume and properties from the leaves, resins and flowers of these high desert plants, blending them into the real scents of the wild places they grow in.

We live way up in the mountains of New Mexico, surrounded by endless miles of sagebrush, sweet ponderosa forests and rocky dry dirt that turns into pure perfume when it the summer monsoons come. Once the smell of these places gets into your head it won’t let go. Making desert perfume and beauty products with these plants pays homage to a home we love so much – and allows us to spend our time in these wild spaces, hanging out with the coyotes, gathering perfumery thistles, pruning sagebrush and smelling the air.

FF: What materials do you work with & why?

DW: We make our products from wildcrafted high desert plants, pure essential oils and absolutes, organic carrier oils and beeswax and local tallow. We extract scent from fragrant and healing invasive and common plants as to be good land stewards and to follow responsible wildcrafting standards.

We do a lot of our perfuming work out in the field. We’re a little crazy and will cart enfleurage chassis, jars, oil and presses way the flip out there, just to be able to bottle the exact scent of a particular wildflower in bloom. You come back from a harvest washed in the smell of the desert and don’t want to lose it. Our endless quest is capturing this smell memory and blending it into a wearable desert perfume.

Back at the workshop, we distill directly into our wildcrafted infusions (borrowing from a classical attar technique) and blend these unique desert elixirs with other precious botanicals – essential oils and absolutes -- to fix and harmonize the scents.

People ask a lot about our choice of tallow as an ingredient. All of our soaps contain local tallow that would be otherwise thrown away. While we are vegetarians, we choose to use tallow for the smaller size of its carbon footprint (the alternative oils used to make a hard bar of soap are produced at great cost to native animal populations and imported from across the globe, or require massive water and soil destruction to grow). Not wanting to see a huge source of local oil for our soaps go into the landfill, we decided to collect and hand render the tallow that we then saponify into our soap.

FF: What's your inspiration?

DW: Being out on the land long enough for local wildlife to check you out. Smelling a flower or leaf for the first time. Walking for days and not seeing another person. Monsoon desert bloom. Learning new uses of a hated plant. Sipping cota tea by the campfire while listening to coyote chatter. New Mexico’s full year of blue sky and sunshine. The smell of the desert right before it rains. Going to sleep on giant rocks. Miles and miles of open space.

FF: What excites you for the future?

DW: Creating more relationships with wildlife support organizations. We do a lot of education around the value of predator and “pest” species in New Mexico – amazing creatures like beavers, coyotes, wolves and pumas that are notoriously misunderstood and demonized. We designed our packaging with the hope of future alliance with the some of the organizations that work to support these animals.

FF: Let us know where you sell your work other than online and at markets.

DW: Our products can be found in Denver at Willow – an Artisan’s Market, in Salida at Howl Mercantile, in Ojo Caliente at the Ojo Caliente Spring’s gift store, in Santa Fe at Modern General, Red River Mercantile and The Hive and in Taos at Manzanita.

FF: Anything else you’d like to tell us?

DW: We offer plant identification walks teaching edible and useful plants of the high desert regions, as well as botanical perfumery workshops teaching some of the old school methods of perfume extraction from plant material. If you’re in New Mexico check us out!

Visit and shop with Dryland Wilds at Firefly Handmade Summer Market, July 15-16, 10am-4pm, Twenty Ninth Street shopping district, 29th Street (between Canyon & Walnut) Boulder, CO!

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